Ryujin Waterfall (Ryujin-no-taki [竜神の滝])

Shirahone Onsen / Norikura Highlands, Nagano, Japan

About Ryujin Waterfall (Ryujin-no-taki [竜神の滝])


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2016-10-20
Date last visited: 2016-10-20

Waterfall Latitude: 36.15076
Waterfall Longitude: 137.62936

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The Ryujin Waterfall (Ryujin-no-taki [竜神の滝]; meaning “Dragon God Falls”; also called just Ryujin Falls) was an unexpected waterfalling surprise.

That was because we didn’t expect to visit any waterfalls while seeking out one of the outdoor public baths in the Shirahone Onsen area.

Shirahone_Onsen_027_10192016 - One of the segments of the Ryujin Waterfall
One of the segments of the Ryujin Waterfall

However, after a quick visit to the visitor center, we saw that there was a map sign showing the immediate area.

That was when Dad noticed in the kanji that the map indicated the presence of a waterfall nearby within a two-minute walk!

So when we walked along the road towards the falls, that was when we realized that this was a significant enough of a waterfall to warrant a writeup about it on this website.

The picture you see above was merely one of a handful of segments that were gushing out from its cliff face as clearly they were emerging as springs.

Shirahone_Onsen_025_10192016 - Another segment of the percolating springs resulting in the Ryujin Waterfall
Another segment of the percolating springs resulting in the Ryujin Waterfall

Actually, I’m not sure if the official Romaji (or Romanized Japanese) for this falls is Ryujin.

We knew from the kanji that it translated to the “Dragon God Waterfall”, but I had to enter the kanji into a translator and Ryujin-no-taki was what came out of it.

So until someone corrects me on this, I’m sticking with this translation and referring to this falls as such.

By the way, Shirahone Onsen was written in kanji as 白骨温泉, and it literally meant “White Bone Hot Spring,” perhaps attesting to the high mineral content in the waters here.

Shirahone_Onsen_044_10192016 - The koyo at the Shirahone Onsen spa area which also harbored the Ryujin Waterfall
The koyo at the Shirahone Onsen spa area which also harbored the Ryujin Waterfall

Our visit to the Ryujin Waterfall took about 5-10 minutes as we walked east from the Shirahone Onsen Visitor Center and back.

It was just down the road from a clean toilet facility near where another trail branched off and dropped way down towards a bridge spanning the Yugawa (湯川) or Yu River.

While we had to walk along the shoulder of the Route 300, the traffic wasn’t very heavy, and there was even a pullout in front of the main part of the Ryujin Falls.

So technically, we could have even driven and pulled over by the falls so we didn’t even have to walk.

Shirahone_Onsen_034_10192016 - context of the Ryujin Waterfall and the road passing before it
context of the Ryujin Waterfall and the road passing before it

In any case, the main reason why people go to the Shirahone Onsen was for the hot springs.

The Ryujin Waterfall at least gave me a waterfaller’s excuse to talk about this place.

And it was worth talking about because our visit happened to be during the near peak of the koyo (Autumn colors).

So imagine bathing at one of the outdoor onsens here while staring at the surreal scene of the forest and mountains bathed in red and orange leaves while listening to the rushing sounds of the Yugawa down below.

Shirahone_Onsen_063_10192016 - We ultimately chose this spot to soak in the mineral-laced onsen, which also overlooked the naturesque setting with the koyo and the Yugawa way down below
We ultimately chose this spot to soak in the mineral-laced onsen, which also overlooked the naturesque setting with the koyo and the Yugawa way down below

We could also imagine how this place could be the perfect place to bathe in the hot water while there’s snow around you in the Winter!

Authorities

The Zengoro Waterfall resides in the Shirahone Onsen within the Norikura Highlands near Matsumoto of the Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It is administered by the Ministry of the Environment. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting their website.

Shirahone_Onsen_002_10192016 - After parking the car, this was the view looking uphill from the Route 300 road junction right in front of the Shirahone Onsen visitor center
Shirahone_Onsen_004_10192016 - Looking down at the Yugawa from right in front of the Shirahone Onsen visitor center
Shirahone_Onsen_014_10192016 - Dad and Mom walking along the Route 300 towards the Ryujin Falls after finding out about it from the Shirahone Onsen visitor center
Shirahone_Onsen_015_10192016 - They were kind enough to build this trail so we didn't have to walk on the Route 300 the whole time to the Ryujin Waterfall
Shirahone_Onsen_016_10192016 - Further along the footpath adjacent to the Route 300 en route to the Ryujin Waterfall
Shirahone_Onsen_018_10192016 - This small cascade was our first glimpse at the Ryujin Falls (or at least one of its segments)
Shirahone_Onsen_030_10192016 - Another segment of the Ryujin Falls percolating between some trees and bush
Shirahone_Onsen_045_10192016 - Looking down at the Yugawa with one of the other onsens at the Shirahone Onsen village all surrounded by koyo
Shirahone_Onsen_052_10192016 - We noticed this kind of shrine or something set up next door to the Shirahone Onsen visitor center
Shirahone_Onsen_056_10192016 - Looking back downhill along the road we were walking in pursuit of an onsen to bathe in at the Shirahone Onsen
Shirahone_Onsen_059_10192016 - Looking down into a canyon with lots of koyo as seen from the main part of the Shirahone Onsen
Shirahone_Onsen_061_10192016 - Continuing to walk uphill from the Shirahone Onsen visitor center in search of a good spot to soak in an onsen
Shirahone_Onsen_066_10192016 - The parents ultimately settled on this place in the Shirahone Onsen to enjoy a soak before heading towards Takayama

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The Ryujin Waterfall was very close to the Shirahone Onsen Visitor Center.

This was about 40km (or a little over an hour’s drive) west of Matsumoto, 51km (also a little over an hour’s drive) east of Takayama, or about 8km (roughly 15 minutes drive) north of the Norikura Visitor Center.

From the Shirahone Onsen Visitor Center, the waterfall was only 250m southeast from the road junction where the Route 300 continued in that southeasterly direction.

Our route actually began from Matsumoto, where we took the Route 158 west from the city center for around 32km.

Shirahone_Onsen_036_10192016 - This was the Route 300 heading west between the Ryujin Waterfall and the Shirahone Onsen Visitor Center. The building on the left was a very clean restroom and meeting facility
This was the Route 300 heading west between the Ryujin Waterfall and the Shirahone Onsen Visitor Center. The building on the left was a very clean restroom and meeting facility

We then turned left to go onto the Route 84 and followed this road for just under 10km where the road junctioned with the Route 300 right next to the Norikura visitor Center.

Then, we’d turn right to go on the Route 300 and follow it for about 8km to the Shirahone Onsen Visitor Center, where turning right at the junction to stay on the Route 300 yielded the Ryujin Falls in another 250m.

Alternately, we could have stayed on the Route 158 for another 4km or so to where the road would junction with the Route 300 on the left.

Then, taking the Route 300 for the next 3.5km would take us to the pullout in front of the Ryujin Waterfall.

Shirahone_Onsen_037_10192016 - Looking back at the Shirahone Onsen area near the visitor center where there were some parking spaces
Looking back at the Shirahone Onsen area near the visitor center where there were some parking spaces

And in another 250m would be the Shirahone Onsen Visitor Center just past the junction.

Finally, we could have driven here from the city of Takayama city center by taking the Route 158 for about 47km to its junction with the Route 300.

Then, we’d turn right to go onto the Route 300 and follow the directions as above for the next 3.5km to get to the pullout fronting Ryujin-no-taki.

For geographical context, Matsumoto was about 220km (roughly 3 hours drive) northwest of Tokyo. Meanwhile, Takayama was about 157km (over 2 hours drive) north of Nagoya. Matsumoto and Takayama were about 85km from each other.

Sweep covering the series of springs coming out of the cliff and flowing under the road


Approaching the dragon god falls by walking along the road

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Tagged with: nagano, norikura, highlands, shirahone, onsen, kogen, matsumoto, takayama, japan, waterfall, spring



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About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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